What Does It Mean to Opt-Out of a Class Action?

When dealing with class action lawsuits, people who are part of the class that is affected by the litigation are required to stay in the class or opt-out of the class. As a general rule, consumer class actions begin as opt-out cases, meaning that once a court has certified a class – that is, held that a case can proceed as a class – all of the potential victims or plaintiffs are already considered to be part of the class. If an individual does not wish to be a part of the class action lawsuit, he or she must opt-out of the class. Anyone who has opted out of the class will be ineligible to participate in the outcome of the class action lawsuit.


Some Background on The Opt-Out System


A long time ago, class action lawsuits used to be opt-in only, meaning that if a consumer wanted to participate as part of the class in a class action lawsuit, he or she would affirmatively have to opt into participation of the class. But in 1966, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23 was amended, which made almost all class-action lawsuits opt-out lawsuits. The amendment effectively placed all of the individuals who were adversely affected by a defendant’s conduct into the class and if any one individual did not want to be a part of the class action, he or she would have to opt out. The change in class-action law was to help people better address their rights through class-action lawsuits by making inclusion in the class the default, with the possibility of opting out.


Choosing to Stay in The Class or to Opt Out


Anyone who receives a class action notice is considered part of the class. These individuals must decide if they would like to remain in the class or to opt out. An individual might choose to stay in a class because they have no intention of bringing their own claim against the class action defendant, or because the harm that they suffered is small (but still significant) and bringing their own suit against the defendant would be prohibitively costly. When you are considering opting out of a class action lawsuit, it would be wise to consult with an experienced class-action lawyer about your options and what the potential consequences are for opting out of the class.


Contact A New York Consumer Class Action Lawyer


Class action lawsuits are an economical and efficient means for many victims to obtain the justice they deserve when the harm that they each suffered is relatively small. Not everyone wants to participate in a class-action lawsuit, and that is okay. Just make sure you are informed when you make your decision to opt out of a class action lawsuit. If you have any questions about whether you should opt out of a class action lawsuit, please contact a consumer class action lawyer at the Bromberg Law Office, P.C. today to schedule an appointment.